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2008 Cannes film market morose PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 27 May 2008

The Director of the Cannes Film Market, Jerome PaillardAFP, CANNES  - Business at Cannes' billion-dollar market was morose this year, dampened by too many films on offer and a grim global economic climate, organisers said.

Participation in the world's largest film market saw a slight increase, on the other hand, with new countries jetting in for the 10-day spree of buying and selling.

"The feedback we have is that activity this year overall was morose," the head of the Cannes Film Market, Jerome Paillard, told AFP.

One factor depressing business was "the massive number of films on offer," Paillard noted, as this "made it even more difficult (for films) to find buyers."

More than 5,600 films either completed or still in production were up for grabs this year at Cannes: around 20 percent more than in 2007.

"Bizarrely, the drop in the US dollar should have helped accelerate sales of American films. But apparently that wasn't the case, particularly for finished films," said Paillard.

Some not-yet-complete US movies did however attract interest, with a number of contracts signed during the festival, he said.

European films meanwhile also found it hard to find buyers, mainly because of the strength of the euro but also because big European TV channels were not buying movies and the DVD market is in decline.

The only ray of sunshine was elsewhere, with Asian nations busily snapping up movies at this year's Cannes, and Korea returning to the market after being absent for a few years.

Nevertheless, said Paillard: "The prices for the films changing hands have dropped slightly overall." And that was mainly due to the decline in the US dollar, he added.

Although the fast-growing Chinese and Indian film markets buoyed international sales, neither region is a major film importer for the moment.

They are however poised to become important buyers in the future, particularly India, Paillard said.

The number of multiplex cinemas is also developing at a slower rate in China than in India, but overall, the outlook for foreign films in China looks good.

Documentaries were hot at this Cannes, where a new-genre animated documentary from Israel, "Waltz With Bashir, was one of the favourite movies running for the Cannes' coveted Palme d'Or.

Industry insiders reported brisk business in the front-running documentaries in competition for the Palme, even if there were no more documentaries on sale than usual.

With around 600 in all looking for markets, documentaries represented 10 percent of all films for sale, the same percentage as thrillers, but well behind dramas, which remain the biggest genre.

In all, 101 countries sent buyers and sellers to the Riviera seaside resort for the wheeling and dealing on the market floor, located in the bowels of Cannes' Palais des Festivals. That was 10 percent more than in 2007.

Newcomers included Burkina Faso, Guatemala, Macedonia and Palestine.

Paillard said the growing diversity of Cannes was one of this year's highlights. The downside of 2008 was grey and unseasonally wet weather which sent some business people home early.

The average stay for the 10,000 industry types registered at the market was eight to nine-and-half days.

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